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Antony Blinken Works to Build Support for UN Ceasefire Resolution in Middle East

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is working to leverage global support for the UN Security Council ceasefire resolution into pressure on Hamas and Israel, both of which have indicated they are open to the deal but have not formally responded.

On his second day of a visit to the Middle East, Blinken expressed optimism at the prospect of progress, noting that while Hamas officials had endorsed the US-backed proposal, the group’s leadership in Gaza still needed to sign off on it. Additionally, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reaffirmed his commitment to the proposal.

During his discussions with Israeli officials, Blinken highlighted that everyone’s vote is in, except for one – Hamas. He emphasized the critical importance of Hamas’ leadership in Gaza signing off on the proposal for progress to be made.

Hamas has submitted a response to Egyptian and Qatari mediators, seeking some amendments, while emphasizing their priority is to bring a complete stop to the war. The group has outlined amendments related to the ceasefire, withdrawal, reconstruction, and prisoner exchange. The US is currently evaluating this response.

At an emergency summit on humanitarian aid for Gaza in Jordan, Blinken announced an additional $404 million in funding for humanitarian aid and urged other countries to increase their contributions. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stressed the responsibility of the international community to pressure Israel to open land crossings into Gaza, while Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi echoed the need for international pressure to stop Israel from using hunger as a weapon.

Blinken’s regional trip also includes visits to Egypt and Qatar, both of which have played crucial roles as mediators with Hamas.

The ceasefire proposal, approved by the UN, was unveiled by US President Joe Biden. It includes an initial exchange of elderly, sick, or female hostages for Palestinian detainees held by Israel, leading to a temporary halt to fighting, followed by a permanent end to hostilities and a major reconstruction effort.

Hamas has expressed willingness to negotiate the details of the resolution, while accusing Israel of stalling and creating obstacles to continue the fighting.

The recent UN Security Council vote endorsed a comprehensive plan for Gaza, marking a rare show of relative unity that puts pressure on both parties to the conflict. However, it remains clear that local constituencies and the personal interests of leaders play significant roles in influencing the decisions of Hamas and Israel.

The situation is complex, with Netanyahu’s government facing internal divisions and pressure from hardline extremists who are against accepting the deal. Meanwhile, Hamas has maintained its stance on demanding a permanent ceasefire deal and international guarantees.

As efforts for a ceasefire continue, the conflict’s devastating impact on civilians, as well as the urgency for humanitarian aid in Gaza, remain at the forefront of international concern.

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